The Garden of BCJ
(Byeok Cho Ji)
It takes a bit of an effort to get there...check that, if you don't have a car, it takes a lot of effort to get there. However, if you are willing to go through the hassle of first locating and then journeying to The Garden of BCJ in Paju, you shall be rewarded.
An Oasis of Beauty
The Garden of BCJ, or Byeok Cho Ji, is a gorgeous botanical garden in an otherwise unassuming spot in the countryside of Paju. Truly, the road that leads to this stunning oasis in the middle of nowhere leaves much to be desired; it is exactly like so many other country roads found outside of Seoul. It follows a small stream bed, and low mountains lacking in spectacular features rise on either side. The various buildings and other manmade structures that you pass along the way seem to be more redolent of Korea’s 3rd-world economic past than of its current standing as one of the world’s richest countries.
However, once you enter the garden, the area’s quotidian scenery is soon forgotten and firmly replaced by a meticulously kept array of elegant gardens that are worthy of European royalty. In fact, it took 10 years to create the over 120,000 square meters of gardens that feature a riveting combination of traditional Korean and European style landscaping. So, you’ll be forgiven if at any point during your visit you “accidentally” forget your whereabouts and find yourself pretending to be in the royal gardens of a European palace.
Although the Garden of BCJ is open year round, the garden is best visited in either the spring or winter. During the spring, you can enjoy the Tulip Festival which runs from April to May. Along with the tulips, the garden boasts the full spectrum of colors thanks to so many of its flowers being in bloom. Also, the temperatures are quite pleasant during this time of the year.
You may not think a botanical garden has much to offer during the winter, but thanks to the Festival of Lights which runs from December to February, the Garden of BCJ remains a “hot” spot even when the temperature drops below freezing.
The Festival of Lights actually provides a great way in which to enjoy Christmas lights in a country that does not have a strong tradition of scintillating decorations during the holidays. If you are looking for something to do around Christmas that will give you a small taste of being home for the holidays, definitely consider visiting the garden during its Festival of Lights. Dress warmly and then freeze your butt off while wandering through the winter wonderland’s labyrinth of colorfully lit garden paths. When you get too cold, rest inside one of the garden’s shelters and enjoy a hot beverage---a latte, a coffee, or the garden’s own Wind of Hercules (see picture below).
Even if you can’t visit the Garden of BCJ during the spring or winter, make a concerted effort to get there whenever you can. It undoubtedly contains a cornucopia of beautiful vegetation that beckons and rewards visitors regardless of the season. Do not miss this dazzling display of pulchritude in Paju...and absolutely appreciate this astonishing application of awful alliteration.
To see more photos, check out the Garden of BCJ photo album on Google.
Also, check out Seoul Scout: The Garden of BCJ
From March to October, the garden is open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. From November to February, the garden is open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Entry is 7,000 won on weekdays and 8,000 won on the weekends.
If you are versed in the ways of Korean, check out their website.
How To Get There
The best thing to do is get a car, punch in the following GPS coordinates (37.80123, 126.87363) and drive. If that can't be done, enter your point of origin in the form below and follow Google's hopefully well-informed directions. Good luck.